My Writing Life

When I was little, my mother took me to a re-release of BAMBI. Thumper recited a poem with a funny ending and said, “I made that last part up myself.” I said, “He can’t do that!” Mom said, “Somebody made up this movie. They got paid for it.” I knew I wanted to write.

I already got in trouble for daydreaming. I remember wanting to learn my letters, to connect them into words and sentences and put my daydreams on paper.

By the sixth grade, I was writing stories and giving them to my teacher to read. She sent one to a contest, where it won honorable mention. That began my acquaintanceship with marketing.

In college, I wrote a novel. It started out as a parody of romantic suspense, with deliberately stereotyped characters and situations. As I wrote, I got interested in the characters and they grew. The plot took its own twists and turns. The conversations carried me in directions I hadn’t expected.

When I finished that book, I wrote another. Then another. Then another.

By that time, I could see the flaws in the first one, and it was obvious why I hadn’t been able to sell it. I’ve rewritten it several times since then, each time learning. I still haven’t sold it, but it’s a good book, and it will sell, once I get it right.

My second, third and fourth novels were picked up by early electronic publishers (Access Press, Serendipity Systems, and Echelon Press).

I wrote a fantasy that just got bigger… and bigger… and bigger! Also stranger. After about twenty years of writing, rewriting, unwriting, backwriting, and insideoutwriting, it’s been picked up — as a trilogy — and will soon be published by Hydra Publications. Yes, I’m talking about SAGE.

I’m a member of the Southern Indiana Writers Group, and we publish an annual anthology of members’ work. Writing and critiquing those stories keep our creative and critical muscles strong.

Here’s some advice I gave a young friend who asked how she could possibly succeed as a writer when there’s so much competition:

As for how you can possibly succeed as a writer, ask yourself what you mean by “succeed”. Do you mean “write well”? That’s what I mean by success, and competition has nothing to do with that. Other writers can only teach me things and help me. They aren’t my competition; they’re my colleagues. Do you mean “sell and make money”? My only hope of that is to write as well as I can, with MY imagination and MY voice and MY skills, and to submit and keep improving and keep submitting.

I’ve never known a good writer who wasn’t generous with his or her advice or help. That’s because most writers are readers, and want as many good writers to succeed as possible so they’ll have more good books to read.

Relax. Write!

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Find a job or profession you didn’t realize exists and imagine a character who does that for a living. I once dated a guy who calibrated the tools used to measure parts to precise specifications. SOMEBODY has to do it!



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “My Writing Life

  1. Jane

    December 10, 2012 at 9:17am

    I can see it now: THE CALIBRATIONIST!

    I think it would SELL!

    Good post.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      December 10, 2012 at 2:07pm

      Ooo! Jane, I like the title! It sounds like one of those literary psychological suspense mysteries, doesn’t it? Or–no, no–THE CALIBRATIONIST’S DAUGHTER! I think we’re onto something, here.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Tara

    December 10, 2012 at 11:11am

    What a great prompt! I heard this show on NPR recently about people with strange professions and someone called in to say they had a business sharpening medical tools like scalpels for surgery. It had never occurred to me that this was a job – but of course it is.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      December 10, 2012 at 2:10pm

      Right, Tara! This latest time Mom was in the hospital, a guy came around every few days and swapped out the bin of used needles for an empty bin. That was his only job. He serviced a couple of hospitals a day, and didn’t even transport the used needles; he just stacked the bins on a cart and took them to the dock, and somebody else loaded them and transported them.

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  3. Red Tash

    December 10, 2012 at 7:55pm

    Writing is truly the only field I have ever partaken of professionally where competition was in the eye of the beholder. The avid reader can devour a book a week, a book a day. I have never known a writer who can finish a polished & ready manuscript in that same amount of time. It is *impossible* for us to compete!

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      December 11, 2012 at 8:39am

      Absolutely, Red! I love to find a series of books by somebody I haven’t read yet, so I have a buncha books to rip through. 🙂

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  4. Shaunda Wenger

    December 11, 2012 at 10:53pm

    I loved Bambi, especially Thumper’s poem! It seems so many of us writers and readers got hooked when we were younger. I wish every child was given that opportunity to fall in love with words!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      December 12, 2012 at 9:07am

      I loved being read to! I read to #3 and #4 (1-3 are step-daughters and I missed their littlehood, except for a bit of #3’s) when they were young. #4 is now also a writer. 🙂

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  5. Jim Hilton

    December 13, 2012 at 9:39am

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! Well deserved!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  6. Jim Hilton

    December 13, 2012 at 9:44am

    @Jim Hilton

    Oops, senior moment! Sorry bout that 🙁

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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